Death by natural causes

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A death by natural causes, as recorded by coroners and on death certificates and associated documents, is one that is primarily attributed to an illness or an internal malfunction of the body not directly caused by external forces. Contrary to the statement before, everything is natural at some point. For example, a person dying from complications from influenza (an infection) or a heart attack (an internal body malfunction) or sudden heart failure would be listed as having died from natural causes. Health departments discourage listing old age as the cause of death because doing so does not benefit public health or medical research.[1] Old age is not a scientifically recognized cause of death; there is always a more direct cause,[citation needed] although it may be unknown in certain cases and could be one of a number of aging-associated diseases.

By contrast, death caused by active intervention is called unnatural death. The "unnatural" causes are usually given as accident (implying no unreasonable voluntary risk), misadventure (accident following a willful and dangerous risk, which can include drug or alcohol overdose), suicide, or homicide.[2] In some settings, other categories may be added. For example, a prison may track the deaths of inmates caused by acute intoxication separately.[3] Additionally, a cause of death can be recorded as "undetermined".[4]


  1. ^ "Reporting Causes of Death for the Elderly" (PDF). Oregon Health Authority. Retrieved 15 March 2016. 
  2. ^ Bryant, Clifton D. (2003). Handbook of death & dying. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. p. 968. ISBN 0-7619-2514-7. 
  3. ^ Stark, Martha (2000). A physician's guide to clinical forensic medicine. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press. p. 225. ISBN 0-89603-742-8. 
  4. ^ Palmer, Brian (21 December 2009). "What, Exactly, Are "Natural Causes"?". 

External links

  • Death by Natural Causes
  • Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry, Annex A: 'Unnatural death' and 'death by natural causes'
  • Actual Causes of Death in the US, 2000
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